The Answer Does Not Always Come in Pill Form - Drugs Can't Fix Your Life

in #medicine4 years ago (edited)


This post was prompted by some of the responses to my previous post on suicide.

One of the things I have noticed is a tendency for all of us (myself included) to over medicalise complex issues - by which I mean the idea that almost every problem has a drug based solution.

Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to human psychology and psychiatry.

We live in a consumer culture which says that we ought to be able to buy an immediate fix to any problem using technology.

Drugs are one of the most ancient forms of technology we have.


Pills can't fix everything.

People are busy and want quick fixes to difficult problems.

In certain cases that may work.

For example if you have a piece of technology, (say a car) that needs fixing then you can usually get it fixed pretty fast if you pay enough money.

If all else fails you can buy another one.

You can't do that with the human mind (at least not yet) but in a similar way people expect that if one drug does not work for them then they need to just try another one.

"The last one didn't work because it was not new or advanced enough - but this next one surely will."

The real issue is not the drug companies

Many people like to blame the drug companies for these kinds of issues.


It is easy to blame the drug companies.

Obviously it is in their best interests to push their products as solutions to as many problems as they can find.

They are businesses and not charities. They have also engaged in questionable and downright unethical practices.

However, placing the blame entirely at their door is an oversimplification in my opinion.

As human beings we have a tendency to blame others for problems because it allows us to feel better about ourselves.

The truth is that drug companies are only fulfilling a need that already exists in modern society.

They are a mirror which reflects societal need - without that they would not be so successful.

Psychological problems are complex

Most psychological problems are complex and multifactorial- they rarely occur overnight.

Psychological and Social issues are complex.

A large proportion of what causes them are related to our personality, lifestyle and social factors.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that drugs don't have a place.

In severe mental illness they are an invaluable tool to help arrest the immediate acute situation and save lives.

They can also help to counter genetic predispositions which give people a higher than average susceptibility to mental health problems.

What they cannot and won't do is fix the circumstances in your life, personality and thinking that lead you to the end point of developing mental illness.

It is simply unrealistic to expect that.

"Human" problems often need "human" solutions

These are "human" (person based) problems and need "human" (person based) solutions - things like counselling, psychotherapy, education and support services.

"Human" problems need "human" solutions.

This bring us to one of the central issues of why pushing drugs is so attractive - Cost.

Even the most expensive drug will be a lot cheaper than training a new psychotherapist or clinical psychologist.

It is not just a matter of monetary cost though.

Drugs can be cheaper in terms of time and infrastructure too.

They require less work and effort on behalf of both society/institutions and the individual.

As an illustration of this, if we suddenly decided we wanted to train the actual number of psychotherapists and other professionals we needed to serve mental health services we would not have the required educational structures to actually do it.

Additionally engaging with something like cognitive behavioural therapy can take months (sometimes years) of hard and uncomfortable effort.

Patients often drop out and stop attending because it is too hard.

I lost count of the number of patients who asked for psychotherapy but when they actually were lucky enough to get their appointments (normally there is a waiting list) they dropped out or gave up after a couple of sessions.

So both from a societal and individual perspective we all engage in believing that the next pill will do what all the previous ones have not.

- It is almost like a shared delusion which shields people from confronting the more difficult problems.

As I have said before - It is so much easier to take a pill.

Then when it doesn't work we ask our doctor for a new one. Rinse and repeat.

Sadly life is not that simple.


In summary my main point is that it is easy for us to look for quick fixes to complex problems - particularly when it comes to our own minds.

Life is complex and so are our minds.

This also makes it easier for institutions and organisations to neglect investing in more expensive long term solutions.

It is easy to blame the drug companies/"big pharma" for this situation but I believe it is actually a reflection of a deep seated and somewhat immature view of the psychosocial problems that exist in modern society.

It is in our nature to try to take short cuts and expend the least energy necessary to solve any problem.

It makes sense for some problems but in this case I believe it goes against our best interests. What do you think?

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Yes! So much can be accomplished with the power of one's mind. Whether it's mindful practice of a habit, meditation or just a sheer paradigm shift. It's sad that people, especially in the U.S. look to a pill so quickly to "fix" their problem, whether real or imagined.

We are an over medicated society. Pharma commercials are brainwashing.

Outstanding! My wife got her friend off 3 anti depressants. That was 4 years ago and she is very happy.

Just because you are sad or have down periods in your life does not mean you are depressed.

Just because you freak out occasionally or get super nervous about a situation does not mean it's a panic attack.

I took pills for ADHD into adulthood and was able to focus on tasks without medication. I don't blame my parents but I think it is a crime that children are being medicated against their will and their, sometimes crazy, little personalities are being squashed into little zombies.

i agree , i think one of the things that really needs to be looked at is simply turning off your television set, and i mean not for an hour a day i mean forever, kids and adults (in my humble and uninformed opinion) are inundated daily ney hourly with images of people living some story book life, the sun hitting them just perfectly, some beautiful man or woman looking lovingly at them , everything is clean and shiny, and perfect , all to sell some laundry detergent or a soda, i think as much time as people spend in front of their television they start to form an idea that is what life is and not the messy, confusing,complicated thing that they are stuck in, so they begin to examine themelsves and their lives as a failure. think about how many commercals like this your children are exposed to on an hourly basis, and then throw in some pharma adds that tell them yes you are rignt and you do have problems but if you just take this everyting will be ok, drilled into their minds for years and years.

Your comment is so filled with information. This exactly the misinfo that happens in real life. Like commercials that paint extreme light complexion is if it is all the life entails and creates obsession with whitening creams etc

thank you , very kind.

Thanks. Yes it is a particular problem in children.

If one has hormonal disorder, for example, no meditation will treat it, unfortunatly. I'm not "for" pills, but I'm not against them as well. I just think that sometimes it's a solotion enough where everything else doesn't work

Very true and that is why it is important to do full testing on anyone who has mental health issues. Although it is a less common cause of them certain hormonal disturbances can be the reason and proper treatment can result in complete remission.

Well, now I'm taking pills to cure my depression, just wrote a post about it today... But I tryed everything I could before I finally took the decision to looks for help in the doctor's office and the drug-house. I whish I succeeded, but I didn't

this post very important to every one

You did a great article on an area that needs to be addressed. It's so sad that most doctors tend to prescribe medications and overlook holistic methods and other ways where the patient can take charge of his/her life. Thank-you for sharing your knowledge with us.

Awesome article. The human body is miraculous in its ability to heal itself.
We have to do the HARD work ourselves and that takes time and patience.
There is no quick fix as our culture seems to demand. And there's no shame in asking for help. Just as with anything let it be qualified help.

True and especially so for the human mind. To be honest I think even unqualified support is very helpful - the problem is in modern times we have less and less of it as we become more isolated.

Amazing post, I agree. Pharmaceuticals such as psychiatric drugs only cover the symptoms and not the underlying reason for the symptoms. A pill is no magical cure.

Exactly - they should only ever be part of the treatment, not all of it.

The Pharmaceutical industry is a monster, corrupt, and plain evil imo.

Shocking diets and lack of exercise have a lot to answer for, but the solution is simple and doesn't require pills! Get off yer arse and eat a salad!

Ok rant over... now where are my relaxants...

I don't think the pharmaceutical industry is any more corrupt than the rest of business - I think we expect them to behaviour better because of the business they are in but they don't.


Agreed. Sometimes the best medication is postive encouragement from the lovely people around you. Altering your brain with chemicals is usually just a quick fix and will lead to greater despair. Thanks for sharing !

Very interesting article keep up the good work!

Hello @thecryptofiend. I agree with all you said but I was glad to see that you mentioned the following:

In severe mental illness they are an invaluable tool to help arrest the immediate acute situation and save lives.

This was certainly true in my case as I have mentioned in some of my posts. Medication enabled me to reach a point where the other 'person based' solutions could have an effect. I still need medication and probably will for the rest of my life unless something new comes along.

Thanks for a thought provoking post. Looking forward to more. Followed you.

Exactly they are not useless at all. They have a use but on their own they will not work in the long term.

Pills for mental problems? Doesn't sound good to me, at all. These things are usually cured only by the right counseling by the professionals and love, affection and assurance from our loved ones. Am I right Doc?

I think so. The medication can help in the immediate situation but on its own it will not fix the underlying issues.

No doubt drug is not ultimate solution of any stress,tension or other disease belong to human behavior, I personally fully agree with your arguments as you have described in your post, Thanks to share good info as it is most common issue world wide.

Thank you - Yes.

Excellent post dear friend @thecryptofiend very interesting and topical, it is of public knowledge that there are more and more cases that come to the people to escape the problems, thank you very much for sharing this material of much interez.
Reesteemit the post to contribute to its diffusion
Have a beautiful Sunday and an excellent start to the week

Resteemed. Great article. I'm subscribed too.

There's a great book called the happiness hypothesis. It explores the use of medication, religion, and meditation and how they can all get us to the same place. For some people, medication works. But I too think it just masks the symptoms and we need to heal from within. I would like to say that perhaps medication could aid in perspective change temporarily rather than permanent mood stabilization. Psilocybin appears to have an affect on depression and hospice patients:

I would agree that psychedelics are of great potential value (according to recent research as well as shamanic tradition) but like any drug they are unlikely to work on their own and most people involved in such studies often receive some form of psychotherapy at the same time. In a sense that is more consistent with shamanic practices too.

Well said @thecryptofiend. This is a similar pattern to dieting.
No-one ever really loses weight and keeps it off by following the latest diet.
And yet, when one fails they try the next one thinking it will work.

And they forget all about the previous 15 time dieting didn't work and all the weight they gained by following them.

It's the same with drugs - as you stated. when this pill fails, I'll try another one.
So much in medicine these days seems to be focused on minimising the symptoms, so you can still go to work, rather that addressing the root cause and fixing the problem.

Somewhere along the line, I think we have lost the reason for being healthy and well.
It's so you can enjoy life, be comfortable and pain free, and go out and do things, not so you can continue to grind away at your job day after day making other people rich.

Great points! Thanks.

Very informative post. Keep it coming! Followed you...

Una vez más @thecryptofiend nos regala información valiosa para superar nuestros problemas. Gracias por el post.

Hi, really good article thank you :)

I did a infography about what is the place for the doctors of the future :

I'm a beginner but it was for a serious work in my university based on a article based on professional presentation we host in the HEG of Geneva. Thank you for taking a look : )

Follow me I always follow back ; )

Thanks will do it is a subject I often ponder. I personally think as doctors in any branch of medicine (even surgery) one of our biggest roles is actually psychological support and reassurance. Sadly it is often the thing that gets pushed aside in modern medicine. Machines and AI may take over many roles but I think for the foreseeable future the human component will be important.

Sometimes taken a few days of those pills are enough to get you thinking right and put you forward to getting other help :)

Yes definitely and I don't want people to think I'm saying they are useless.

Pills and the pharma mafia - it is like a lot other goods we consume that make us addictive - hate these pills and they are really a solution

I don't really believe in the pharma mafia - there are bad people just like anything else but I think it is a problem in all industries, where profit is the primary driver and governments being to close to them.

I think pharma is still special as i know some of the lobby folks out there - much stronger as from other industries.

Not really the lobby for all industries is big. Just look at food.

So you mean Food is not big in lobbying? Where do you take this info from? Just curious

EDIT - Just saw this where food is not listed (thought the meat and fast food industry is big in there):

No I mean food is just as big, as are the oil companies and tech. I think the perception that the Drug lobby is worse comes from the fact that we have higher expectations of them.

That might be true indeed - pharma are always the bad boys in our minds

Good post. I think education around mental health is very much needed in today's society.

This is a great post. Very well-written and awesome points but can I just say I am blown away by your formatting. :O I clearly need to make my blogs prettier. I didn't even know your could wrap text around an image. And those lines above and below your headlines. Woah! Seriously though, good post.

nice info...

It was horrible to read Chris Cornell wife's story today. How do you make that call? You need help so you take something. But it has the exact opposite effect as desired. I can't imagine the pain she is feeling.

It is tricky. Sometimes taking becoming less depressed can in itself increase suicide risk because you are more likely to take action on your thoughts. Hard to say if that is the reason why some antidepressants increase suicide risk. There is no easy solution how to give complete protection - even watching someone 24 hours a day is not 100% effective.

Great post! Sad that pills always look cheaper then proper psychological therapy. I want people to know that you can find online help, I can recommend to search for behavioral therapy online. You can chat or email with a psychologist, some do it even for free. Some ask package prices. I can not imagine it's not in the USA, otherwise try dutch sites. Most of them do speak english as well. If you want to know more, please reply. I am happy to help anyone further :)

Thanks - yes there are more online resources. I still think the best option is to see someone in person but I think some kind of Skype type situation with a real person is still better than nothing.

Yes it is, sometime come from suggestion.

Not sure what you mean.

this post was seriously a breath of fresh air! @thecryptofiend

Absolutely agree !! I'm still very young but I've seen the damage pills can do to people . Really good post.

Thanks - well they need to be used in the right way.

I like this mindset; actually. The human psyche is so deep and complex. We're barely at the anatomy stage, let alone any sort of exact modeling or prediction.

You're right - a Zoloft script is what, $30 a month even before insurance? A therapist can be $100s per hour.

I agree that a pill can't fix everything. Pharmacotherapy for anything is putting a chemical designed to modulate your body and hoping that the tests we've done and the predictions we've extrapolated causes a successful outcome. And for many people, specifically in the realm of psychiatric disease, adjusting body chemistry is a cornerstone of therapy and can truly help.

But it can't be the only leg of the stool. Cognitive and behavioral therapy are crucial build coping strategies and emotional strength. It's not easy - not in the least.

If you'd ever like to collaborate on something about the cost/effectiveness of different treatment modalities for psych disease, or maybe about perceptions of ease of treatment of the above, let me know!

Thanks I will keep it in mind!

drugs can not solve anithyng, our spirit needs meditation, yes... we all need meditation, focus and awaken what we should be in this world, when you have 50k bitcoin in your pocket now, you can buy anything you want, but di you ever think, how if.......when you have 50k bitcoin and then you die, where will you go after that ? sometimes we forgot to feed our spirit, take some rest and do the meditation, you could do it in budha's way or hindu's way or if you christian you can go to church to do some meditation, if you muslim you have to do it 5 times / day, i do this and its worked..

i never feel empty again..

If there is anything I have learned about drugs, it is that there is always a reactionary, rebalancing effect. Beyond the monetary aspects, when you use a drug to remedy an issue, or for recreational purposes, as soon as you stop, your body will seek to bring itself back to neutral by swinging the pendulum way the other way. A friend of mine would describe it as "borrowed happiness, to be repaid...with interest."

Depends on the drug but with most drugs of abuse there is the issue of tolerance and withdrawal reactions.

Great post and so true. Everyone wants a quick fix for whatever ailment without thinking things through

Love this article, so much truth revealed Thank you

I keep saying it but it's never gets old. Brilliant... article..... my bro.... Lol! I couldn't agree more on the issue of the mass appeal of people over self-medicating for psychological conditions and the like. The easy grab for a pill and that quick fix has turned into the norm for many now.

In fact, a few individuals I know in my area took so many over the years that they are now virtually zombies and the long term effects couldn't be clearer and more visually disturbing. My mother was a GP for many years and usually recommended her patients to try herbal remedies first if she thought that may be a preferential route of treatment for them. She found quite a number felt much better and actually asked specifically for it the next time round. Natural healing techniques are something I advocate strongly given the high success rates I've witnessed. Maybe something like that could act as a pill replacement in certain situations.

Again, pure class from you, @thecryptofiend.

Thanks mate!

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